Teens: Culturally Literate, Biblically Illiterate? Bush the Evangelical.

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Yesterday the NYT carried a piece about “The Jesus Factor,” a PBS special designed to help us “understand the President and His God.” As is so often the case, what we actually learn is not necessarily what the writer intends. For instance, among the scandalous revelations we learn that the President once told a reporter a “person needs to accept Christ” to go to heaven (See John 14:6). Or how about this one: The President said, “we need common sense judges who understand our rights were derived from God.” (See Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights¢â‚¬¦”).

David Brooks wrote a column saying that as we have “mainstreamed” evangelicals have lost our doctrinal and ideological distinctives. What we learn from this special is that somebody forgot to tell the President.

I often make the point that today’s teens are more culturally literate than biblically literate. Yesterday I once again helped teens understand this by giving them a quiz with four popular culture questions and four biblical questions. These were smart kids at a great private Christian school. In unison the enthusiastically “nailed” the popular culture questions and then most of them were silenced by the Biblical questions. I then told them they need faith literacy for three reasons: ONE) Popular Culture is mindless diversion, but faith is about stuff that matters. Two) Popular culture offers great descriptions of our situation, but unreliable solutions, but faith delivers truth. Three) Popular Culture will consume you, but faith will satisfy you.

How’s your literacy? The questions are listed below (with answers in parenthesis). Try it with kids you know and see how they do:

Popular Culture Quiz
1) Name the 3 guys in “Friends:” (Ross, Chandler, Joey)
2) Fill in the blank: “Will and __________” (Grace)
3) Fill in the blank: American _________ (Idol)
4) Who sang the controversial duet at this year’s Super-bowl Halftime? (Justin T & Janet Jackson)

Faith Quiz
1) Name Noah’s three sons? (Ham, Shem and Japheth)
2) Fill in the blank: Jesus prayed for his disciples and said, “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you _______________(to protect them from the evil one).
3) Who said faith without works is dead? (James)
4) Who described Jesus followers as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood¢â‚¬¦ aliens and exiles?” (Peter)

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

If you have comments regarding this column please contact us at:

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
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